5 Alternatives to the iPad

34 Comments

You say you’re not impressed that the “magic” iPad went on sale today because you want a “real” OS powering your slate device. We’ve got your back as we’re your source for information about all things tablet. As interesting as the iPad is, no matter what Apple (s aapl) wants us to think it’s by no means the first tablet. I’ve been using them for almost a decade, matter of fact. What better way to share the tablet love than to give you 5 alternatives to the iPad. Note that I am currently using or have used every slate on this list, so you know I’m serious about it.

1. Viliv S5. We’ll start out with the smallest slate on the list. The 5-inch S5 with its near pocketable form can be just the ticket for something to take along when space is a concern. It runs full Windows and the screen resolution is as high as most netbooks (1024×600) even though the screen is so small. It’s a real computer too, not a watered-down gadget by any means. The touchscreen works wonderfully, and it can even handle inking in a pinch if you’re careful where you put your hand.

2. Viliv X70. Now we move up in size a little to the 7-inch slate. The X70 has a touchscreen that is the same resolution as the smaller S5, so things are easier to see. Surfing the web on the X70 is a joy, with the full web available due to the Windows platform. Like every other slate on this list, the X70 does indeed do Flash. It will fit in most any gear bag, and is easy to use in the hands as a slate should be.

3. Viliv S7. Now we move into territory the iPad can only dream about, as the S7 is a full convertible. You don’t put the top down on this baby, but you can lift the slate up to expose a full QWERTY keyboard. No onscreen keyboard to frustrate you — you’re too much of a power user. The S7 has the same 7-inch screen as the X70, but adds that keyboard and a full trackpad for full power use. Don’t fret, it can still function as a full slate when put in that configuration. Amazingly, the Viliv folks added the keyboard to the 7-inch slate in a package that is thinner and lighter than the X70.

4. Viliv S10 Blade. If you’re the type for whom a namby-pamby little screen just won’t do, the S10 steps up the game with its 10-inch high resolution screen. That big (1366×768) display adds full 3-point multitouch to the mix, turning it into a full featured tablet. Swivel the screen around and you expose a keyboard that supports full touch typing;  you’ll be off to the races getting stuff done.  To top things off, the S10 (like the S7 and X70) has a webcam, unlike that iPad thing. You’ll be video calling like crazy, getting things done no matter where you might be. Or maybe you’ll be on Chatroulette, it’s your call.

5. ThinkPad x200t. This is the cream of the tablet crop, the device for those who need everything. The x200t is a convertible notebook with a 12-inch multitouch screen, that also has full inking support to tap into the full Tablet PC technology in Windows. Need to get data into your computer? Consider the many options on the x200t: handwriting, typing on a real keyboard, typing on a virtual keyboard (slate mode) or simply by speaking the text. No compromises, no excuses. Just getting work done, no matter what. The way you want to do it.

34 Comments

JureF

Nice list, though I wouldn’t buy any of these for a single reason – they run Windows. I’d consider a tablet with either some form of Linux or Android – or, of course, the iPad.

gunderstorm

Thanks for this. I wish we could see where an Android device will fit into all of this. I do think Win7 is a bit overkill for an iPad comparison.

Nice to know the blade does multi-touch though.

Ed

Seriously? Seems like nothing but a commercial for Viliv. There are many other alternatives to the iPad like the Lenovo S10-3t.

Robert

Seriously? The Lenovo S10-3t is twice is heavy and twice as thick as the iPad. Have you tried holding a three pound textbook for any length of time? Not a competitor.

bluespapa

I understood what you meant, James.

I get more work done with my Samsung Q1UP-V (on which I put Windows 7) than I could with the iPad, but I notice that it’s not on the Samsung website anymore. The Core Solo is snappier than the Atoms on the Vilivs, but I don’t know about the Via Nano on their newest one.

Even so, I doubt my mother could crash the iPad, be confused by its UI, or wonder how to use its most basic software, which she has by Office and XP, and would by Windows 7, and any browser you put on it.

There are and will be more useful alternatives to the iPad, but not much will be as easy to use with a screen big enough for boomers and their parents to enjoy.

Virtuous

The Q1U Premium isn’t on the Samsung website any more because it was a sales dud. I predict Samsung will soon discontinue the Q1 line all together. In its first few years Apple will ship more iPads than all of the Tablet PCs ever shipped.

bluespapa

Yep, I agree. And unless the HP Courier or Microsoft’s Journal are any good, there won’t be any light weight tablets with real power.

James Kendrick

A note of clarification:

I kept this list to only devices I have actually used in a productive environment. It is by no means complete, but every device is one I am familiar with.

I decided to not incorporate any device that is not currently available on the market. The HP slate and Notion Ink look very nice indeed, but not real yet.

Robert

James, two questions:

1) As I look around I really don’t see anything that I would consider truly competing with the iPad, i.e. a content consumption device. It’s much more than a Kindle, easier on the eyes than an iPod Touch, and lighter than any other tablet computer. Am I missing anything that’s actually on the market today? (I commented earlier about the devices in your post.)

2) Can you comment on the status of WebOS devices that might compete with the iPad? I have a Pre and think Palm did a great job with WebOS, but they took way too long and missed the window so now Android and ChromeOS have everyone’s attention. Unfortunately, I don’t see any future for WebOS.

FYI, I ordered my iPad (32gb, wi-fi).

MJ Posner

I just ordered my Ipad and as someone who has owned a Viliv X70 (sold) has a Viliv S5, i think that the usefulness of the Ipad will be much higher. Windows and its tiny buttons just doesn’t work well on the S5. In fact I generally prefer my Archos 5it to the S5, as it is lighter and the screen is easier to read. As a long time Kindle users and Iphone user I think Apple may have a real hit on its hands.

John in Norway

You forgot about a real notebook and pen. They’re far more useful than the Dumbers ipad.

beau lane

JAMES no HP Slate!!!!!!!!!!!!!
what is the world coming to???

Mike

Normally I agree with most of your views James, but in this case I’ve really got to question the Viliv recommendations.

I’ve got a Viliv X70 that I bought from Dynamism awhile back, and it is the worst tablet device that I have ever owned. I’ve run XP and Win7 on it, and in both cases the device is slow. Browsing is far from a “joy” – it’s like pulling teeth. Even with the nifty Firefox gesture plugins, etc. The X70 can’t hold a candle compared to flick-scrolling on an Android or iPhone.

I’m also very disappointed that Viliv chose to make it a royal pain in the ass to put Linux on the device. Supposedly they do have a model with Linux available (or at least were going to), but the shipping devices? Nada. Forget about it. No drivers for the touchscreen, which means it operates kinda like a mouse, but not really. The WiFi is also a problem. At least the Poulsbo video chipset is supported (somewhat).

I can’t even sell the damn thing on Craigslist. In short: worst tablet I’ve ever owned. I’d gladly take a locked-down iPad over this thing.

Sam

Viliv x70 all the way!

Got min February 2010, took 1hour to tweak the os (vista), screen etc…and it ran like a dream!

Received the win7 upgrade 2 weeks later and the viliv x70 ran even better! The device is fast, no wifi issues… i’m typing this from bed. I’ve even watched hd content etc…

I’m using Iron with the chrome touch extension and smooth scroll… i can flick scroll like on the iphone no prob. I have all the tablet features ..touch except for multitouch.
Still dont see what multitouch would add to the x70.

Simply the best gadget i’ve purchased in years…great performance..

[my main system has a core 2 quad 9550 oc @ 3,8 so i’m a perfofmance junky…]

Luscious

I would have included the HP Slate on that list. I like the S5 myself, but it needs Pinetrail and Windows 7 on there – hopefully the Koreans come to market with a nice refresh.

Jake

As an S5 user from last August I’m eagerly awaiting both the iPad and S10. I don’t think the x200t should have been on the list, it’s completely in another league at $2k. One of the nice new Archos devices would have made more sense.

The iPad will become very interesting once they unlock the multitasking ability.

Viliv has a good thing going but they need to listen to their customers. Like putting a mic in the S5 should have been done weeks after launching it. I mean come on, using skype and voice commands on a device this small, that’s a no brainer.

But I’ll continue to enjoy using my S5 for reading or surfing and downloading tv shows simultaneously as I wait for the iPad.

Chuck Norris

The iPad will pounce on these puppies.

iPad domination will commence shortly and relegate these tablet imposters to the scrap heap.

In the time it takes any one of these bloated OS monstrosities to actually boot-up and be ready for user input the iPad will have already consumed the entire internet.

Well off to bed now and don’t forget when the boogeyman goes to sleep he checks his closet for Chuck Norris first.

Okay, one more for all you sleepy heads:
Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.

Vivek - The Technicist

Come on James – the X200t? Really? It’s the tablet version of a MacBook Pro (13″) competitor (similar cost, size, and specs, though lack of a DVD drive could be counted against it). It costs 4 times as much as the entry level iPad and literally has nothing to do with the iPad or any of the iPad-like slate tablet devices beyond having a touchscreen. Any reasonably new touchscreen smartphone is more relevant as an iPad alternative than the X200t.

I’d say the X70 is probably the only real iPad alternative on this list. The S5 is really a weird device – same price as the X70, less features (webcam, mainly), smaller but still not pocketable? I’d rather either go for the X70 or a 5″ Dell Streak, which promises to be a better mobile companion than the S5 (and pocketable, in a pinch). The two Viliv Blades really aren’t in the same class, since they’re convertibles. I guess even the S7 you can justify being on this list – the S10 is just….you’re really into the netbook tablet range there; might as well toss the S10-3t and Eee T91 onto the list as well at that point.

Really, a list of iPad alternatives pretty much comes down to the X70 and a host of shortly releasing, but not actually shipping devices – HP Slate (should be similar to the X70), Notion Ink Adam, Dell Streak (somewhat smaller, really hits the gap between iPhone and iPad as far as size/functionality goes), the JooJoo (Atom/ION/Linux with the ability to hack windows on there eaaasily and a 12″ capacitive touchscreen, yes please), other Tegra 2/Android devices, etc. No convertible tablets, no fully featured computers, nothing with anything more powerful than Atom. The whole point of the iPad and all the rest of these tablets is to streamline the user experience; keyboards, Core i7 processors and Windows 7 aren’t gonna help that. The two Windows slates themselves are a stretch on that list, much less netvertibles and fully fledged tablet PCs in the classic Gatesian sense. This article could have been much better thought out, in my opinion.

John Appleseed

Dude..you haven’t even used an iPad and you write about alternatives!

Mike Reilly

James, say it ain’t so.
You forgot to include the Fujitsu p1630. Wouldn’t this beat all the others in form factor, usable screen for notetaking, and the best compromise choice?

Robert

I’ve never seen one, but a quick search shows that Fujitsu is $1000 more, a pound heavier, and an inch thicker. Not even close to an iPad competitor.

Mike Reilly

If the x200t can be on the list, then certainly the p1630 can be on it also. The p1630 screen is closer to the ipad size (a little smaller, even) and the weight is closer (though it’s 2.2 lbs is more than I would like). The p1630 also has an acceptable cpu. Nothing has come out better than the p1630 for carrying around taking notes, though I’m hoping something will soon. The new crop of tablets/convertibles have been quite disappointing so far.

Carrier

I have the lenovo x200 tablet pc. It’s a great device, but at $2000 it’s not worth it (bought in 2009). The ipad does or will eventually do everything that I use my x200 for. Not to mention: instant start up, cheap apps, and a sleek form factor these plus cost wins me over.
Also, I agree it’s a consumption device, not so much production.

Scotty

All wonderful alternatives if you don’t actually need access to a large collection of software actually written for multi-touch.

TonyP

No mention of the Electrovaya products. Real Slates full Windows OS systems (abeit pricey), great battery life. Electrovaya shrunk down into an iPad package would be great.

Robert

Seems to me like 1, 2 and 3 are too small – not a big enough difference so I might as well use my Pre. 5 is too big and heavy – it’s really a convertible notebook, not a reader/browser/watching device.

4 is the most interesting, but it seems to be over a pound heavier than the iPad, which is a problem in a device meant to be held in the hands for extended reading time.

I don’t really see any of these competing with the iPad in the niche that Apple is defining.

Cole

I’ve never ever seen anyone standing in line at Starbucks or sitting at the beach reading a book on a tablet or a netbook. I have, however, seen tons of people doing it on a Kindle. The iPad, like the Kindle, isn’t a productivity device. It’s a consumption device.

karl

Nice post but I still think the ipad will be the most popular, will be interesting to see what they do with it outside of the US!

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